After that somewhat faded and aimless third season, the truth is that the two parts of the fourth of ‘Stranger Things’ have managed to recover something of what made the first installments interesting. On one side, understand that the terrifying element is consubstantial to the series, and not dissolve it among ingredients of dark fantasybut throw ourselves into that potentially terrifying mystery that hid the first year of the series, and that here is personified in Vecna.
On the other hand, the series has found an explanation for the Upside Down World that works and integrates the rest of the seasons, with Eleven as the unifying nucleus, again going back to the findings at the beginning. And above all, the series has benefited from the break forced by the pandemic, and has returned with great new characters (from Yuri to Eddie Munson), the best villain of its four years and winks and tributes – although so obvious and desperate to please as always – better threaded than usual.
The conclusion has exhibited some of the problems that were already pointed out in seasons two and three, but accentuated: one of them is that there are too many characters, and they remain literally isolated in three completely watertight groups during both parts of the season. On the one hand the main team of boys facing Vecna, on the other the group looking for Eleven, and on the other the adults trying to rescue Hopper. Maybe things could have been approached differently, but frankly, subplots like Hopper’s rescue are so complex that it stands to reason that they take up the entire season.
On the other hand, the narrative formula of the series, so imitated even by itself, has been squeezed to the maximum. The succession of flashbacks, parallel plans to defeat evil, clumsy and foolish adults, typical environments of youth cinema and display of always the same Eleven superpowers work, because they always work, but the whole is on the verge of feeling completely exhausted.
‘Stranger Things’ doesn’t need a twist: it needs to stop
We know that there will be a fifth season of ‘Stranger Things’ practically since we began to know more details about the fourth. And the statements of the Duffer brothers that it was planned from the beginning are not difficult to believe: we will not go into spoilers, but the plot of the series favors it. In addition to reuniting with the protagonists at a more adult age and adjusted to their physiques, will clearly go back to one of the most obvious inspirations of the first season: ‘It’ by Stephen King.
However, the signs of exhaustion are obvious. For example, the interaction and chemistry between the initial characters has disappeared or has been replaced by other more interesting relationships, because the possibilities of the initial group have been squeezed. And this fourth part does its job very well of evolving the initial threats to the top: a continuation of that in a fifth year would feel like an addition, more like an epilogue than a conclusion.
‘Stranger Things’ is not the best series produced by Netflix (from ‘New Taste of Cherry’ to Mike Flanagan’s series, going through animated milestones like ‘BoJack Horseman’, there are many that are far above), but it is one of the best within the most mainstream, simple and digestible variant of the platform. How several years of fiction have come together in this satisfactory fourth season is the best proof: it is a careful, consistent and well-finished product. Obviously, we are not talking about ending the series as the fourth season ends, in an open way, but about not stretching a series with symptoms of exhaustion.
And for that very reason, ‘Stranger Things’ should stop looking for the tickles of its formula. The third season was the best proof of how interest can plummet when the springs aren’t well oiled, and it would be a shame if after a basically satisfying season like this one, we had to say goodbye to the series with a bad taste in our mouths. and with the feeling that it has lasted longer than she herself could allow.
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